New Delhi: Three days after 49 celebrities wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, conveying their concern over incidents of mob lynching and purported weaponisation of the slogan “Jai Sri Ram“, 62 others have hit back, accusing them of “selective aggrieve, false anecdote and a clear political bias” in an open letter. The authors of this new letter include Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chief Prasoon Joshi, Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut, filmmakers Madhur Bhandarkar and Vivek Agnihotri, and classical dancer and Rajya Sabha member Sonal Mansingh.
“An open letter which has been published on 23 July 2019, and addressed to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has astonished us. Forty-nine self-styled ‘guardians’ and conscience keepers’ of the nation… have expressed selective concern and demonstrated clear political bias and motive,” the letter read.
“To us, the undersigned, this document of selective outrage comes across as an attempt to foist a FALSE NARRATIVE… to negatively portray Prime Minister Modi’s untiring efforts. The signatories of the ‘open letter’ have, in the past, kept silent when tribals and the marginalised have become victims of Naxal terror, they have kept silent when separatists have issued dictates to burn schools in Kashmir, they have kept silent when the demand for dismembering India were made…” the letter continued.
Kangana Ranaut, in her separate statement also declared “We are a part of a major shift, things are changing for the betterment of the nation and few people are rattled by this. Common people have chosen their leaders, ones who disregard people’s will are the ones who have no respect or consideration for democracy,” and she warned those who had no respect for democracy.
On the other hand, Prasoon Joshi was more forceful in his criticism. “They (49 people who wrote to PM Modi) seem hell-bent to portray that there is deliberate wrongdoing prevalent- thereby dishonestly creating a false narrative,” he said
The signatories to the new letter also slammed the 49 for criticising the government, while arguing that “… in fact under the Modi regime we see maximum liberty to differ, to criticise and to abuse the government and dispensation in power – the spirit of dissent has never been stronger”.
The letter dated 23 July claimed that lynchings were taking place in the name of ‘Jai Sri Ram’. The signatories of the letter are Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Anurag Kashyap, Aparna Sen and her daughter Konkona Sen Sharma Shorey, vocalist Shubha Mudgal, sports enthusiast-turned-historian Ramchandra Guha and sociologist Ashis Nandy, among others. “We, as peace-loving and proud Indians, are deeply concerned about a number of tragic events that have been happening in recent times in our beloved country,” the letter said.
Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday that whatever they stated was “quite right” and that she had been “saying it for a long. Whenever the country is in a problem, whenever there is a need for social enlightenment, these prominent personalities come to the fore and inspire people, Banerjee said.
Swara Bhasker, also backed the letter, stating “mob lynching had become an epidemic in the country”. Kaushik Sen, one of the 49 signatories, claimed to have received death threats earlier this week.